Dentures Dentures, Retainers and Invisalign

The Disturbing Ingredient Hidden in Your Denture Cleanser

denture cleanser ingredient safety

Porous dental appliances can absorb the ingredients in denture cleaning tablets – meaning you’re holding those chemicals against your mouth when you wear the device.

I’m using denture cleaning tablets to clean my night guards. I’m not sure if this is the best approach. I’m getting tired of buying tablets every few months and I’m wondering if there’s a more “natural” way of doing this. Your thoughts?
I used to recommend denture cleaning tablets, such as Efferdent and Polident, for cleaning Invisalign aligners, dentures, and retainers, and even used to use it myself.

These denture cleaning tablets work very well at cleaning but I’ve recently changed my opinion of these products.

The active ingredient persulfate is my major concern. The FDA has asked the manufacturers of Fixodent, Polident, Efferdent, and other denture cleaners to change the product labeling to include warnings about the risks of allergic reactions which could be caused by persulfates. The FDA also asked the manufacturers to consider alternate ingredients to replace persulfate.

Symptoms of allergic reactions to persulfates used in denture and retainer cleansers include…

  • Tissue Damage
  • Rashes, Hives or Irritation
  • Gum Tenderness
  • Breathing Problems
  • Low Blood Pressure

If accidentally ingested, these denture cleansers can wreak havoc on the body.

Picture this scenario: An elderly person wakes up late at night with an upset stomach and confuses an Efferdent package with an Alka Seltzer package, rips it open and dissolves it into a full glass of drinking water. He wakes up in the emergency room hours later convulsing and gasping for air.

Accidental consumption of denture and retainer cleansers can include…

  • Abdominal Pain
  • Burns
  • Bleaching of tissue
  • Blood in the Urine
  • Internal Bleeding
  • Vomiting
  • Breathing Problems
  • Low Blood Pressure
  • Seizures
  • Death

Bottom line: If you drank the stuff, it could send you to the Emergency Room. So why let your dental appliance, something that sits in your mouth for 8 hours a day or more, marinate in it?

Many of these devices are porous and can hold the persulfate against the tissues inside the mouth. Even if used as directed, I don’t think it’s wise to use these products to clean dentures, sleep apnea devices, retainers, Invisalign aligners, or anything else placed in the mouth.

How to Clean Your Night Guard Naturally

To clean your night guard (or other dental device), keep it soaking in water when it is not in your mouth. Add a squirt or two of castile soap, which doesn’t contain any harmful chemicals. You can also lightly brush it with an electric toothbrush and toothpaste as needed.

Dr. Mark Burhenne DDS

About Mark Burhenne DDS

Mark Burhenne DDS

Hi, I'm Dr. Mark Burhenne, family and sleep medicine dentist. Good dental health is good overall health. It's that important, and it's exactly why I created Ask the Dentist. Learn More »


    • Ask the Dentist says

      I do not recommend alka seltzer to clean your dental appliances. Alka seltzer contains sodium bicarbonate and citric acid, which are both okay in appropriate concentrations – the problem is the aspirin.

      Many people are allergic to aspirin. It has pharmacological action. It can reduce inflammation or thin your blood. People can get aspirin burns in their mouth. It is a drug with effects that you may or may not need – why expose yourself to it on a daily basis and just to clean your nightguards? Even though very little may be absorbed, it is unnecessary exposure on a daily basis.

      Use a squirt of castile soap and baking soda in water to soak your nightguards – it will do the best job of cleaning and the alkalinity in the baking soda will help protect against gum disease and bad breath.

      Mark Burhenne DDS

      • pam cook says

        I have had a horrible rash break out on my fingers that the doctors say is allergic but nothing helps..I seen something about effervescent denture cleaner causing rashes on something..then googled. Now that I’m piecing thing’s the rash started right after I got my teeth pulled and got dentures. I dont have a reation in my mouth but little sores on the ends of my fingers and hands. It was better for awhile when I used half of a generic efferdent cleaner but I got name brand overnight soak and I got blisters on my hands

  1. Tricia says

    Okay then. So what do I use to clean my dentures. I use to smoke, now a non smoker of 5 months. I would like to get my dentures white again. I have always used efferdent. I use it every other night.

  2. says

    My dentist said to use dish washing liquid. That’s what I do. I used the tablets a few times…and my gums were terribly irritated, even though I rinsed the dentures quite thoroughly.

    BTW…I still see adhesives on the shelves that contain zinc. That’s been shown to cause neurological damage. Get only ones that clearly say ZINC FREE. They’ll get us one way or the other….

    • Lorna Walker PhD says

      Zinc can cause neurological damage if not balanced with copper (as it is in most multivitamin/mineral supplements). Consuming zinc alone (and you will be consuming it if you use a denture cleanser with zinc) will cause a copper deficiency. It is the copper deficiency that causes the neurological damage.

  3. Live Vegan says

    Try Dr. Bronners. I have used it for just about everything from cleaning my body and hair to dishes to floors to laundry and it has many many many many other uses. It is really good pure castile soap made from simple ingredients many of them you might consume in other forms. No artificial chemicals or odd ingredients. Plus many of the ingredients are fair trade, none of them are tested on animals or made of animals and much of it is organic as well. Plus due to Emmanuel Bronner being a bit of nut, you can read parts of his religious manifesto on the side of the bottle.

    I have no doubt that this could clean dentures or night guards or what have you.Dr. Bronner’s even recommends is is a toothpaste or mouthwash, though I tried it once and didn’t find it quite so good.

  4. says Mother just got dentures October 26 of 2011…I am very interested in your research. Especially the chocolate thing for me. She is not happy with her new teeth and I would like to hear what other information you have on these subjects. I’m really scared about my teeth since a few of them are getting small gaps at the gum line. No insurance either. Suggestions? Yours truley, Tina

    • Anonymous says

      My dentisturist said if people would use baking soda to brush teeth with gum problems it would stop the disease.

  5. says

    Tina, gaps in your teeth next to the gumming can be sign of gum disease which if left untreated can not only cause you to lose teeth, but has systemic links as well. Go to a dentist, and get your exam and gum therapy routinely.

  6. says

    Mark Burhenne- I can’t find any proof of your credentials.

    There is no real proof that you have the credentials that you document you have.

    Please prove it.

    • Anonymous says

      All you have to do is google Mark Burhenne DDS and there is plenty of proof. His office phone number and location in Sunnydale, CA is clearly found if you search with google so enough with the prove it crap and grow a brain.

  7. NRLub says

    Also, this
    “To clean your night guard (or other dental device), keep it soaking in water when it is not in your mouth and lightly brush it with an electric toothbrush and toothpaste as needed. ” is wrong

    If he’s including dentures in this, which I’m assuming he is by “other dental device” he’s severely wrong. My dentist and just about anyone I know with dentures will tell you DO NOT brush your dentures with toothpaste. It’s abrasive and will cause damage to your denture….and the electric toothbrush ?? Really?? Most just say a soft bristled tooth brush?

  8. Josephine says

    I just stumbled upon this page. I use efferdent to clean my juicer. The carrot juice really stains the juicer. I’m concerned how clean it gets, not just the stain, but bacteria. No soap gets is really clean. So I tried soaking it in efferdent overnight, then rinsing it in the morning with super hot water and then final rinse with cold water.

    Do you think that efferdent would be safe for this purpose?

    • Anonymous says

      No tablet denture cleaners have a harmful ingredient called persulfates. They can cause allergic reactions among other things. Just got to the American Dental Associations site for mor info. Search under denters clensers or persulfates and see for yourself

    • Anonymous says

      If you spray carrot stains with PAM or other no stick, (after each use, before cleaning it up), the oils will break down the stains. Carotene is oil based and will dissolve with the PAM, but not completely with just soap and water.

  9. raymond says

    I entered Top Care Denture Cleanser Tablets searching for ingredients on the package as there are none. I have been using Polident for years and it lists over 20 ingredients.
    Interesting though, the Top Care box states that it is not manufactured or distributed by Block Co., Inc., distributor of Polident.
    So, what’s in it? Isn’t is illegal to sell products of this nature without stating what’s in it?

  10. Dixie says

    I got my 1st set of dentures in November. In January I was suddenly hit with weird, extremly painful swellings and rashes on my feet, ankles and lower legs. The swellings acted very much like gout or hives. After 4 months of suffering and many doctor visits & tests with no answers, I finally stumbled on the info about denture cleanser allergy with persulfate. I had been told since childhood that I was allergic to sulpha drugs and now wonder the link? I stopped using the denture cleanser tablets and my problems all cleared up. YEAH!!

  11. says

    My grandmother left a chunk of polydent in the porcelian sink, she said she used it because it removes all the stains! This alarmed me, so I looked at the ingredients, it also contains sodium nitrate! That ended her use of it. SHe also has had breathing problems for years.

    • chris says

      have an upper denture for 4 yrs. always used effordent w whitening. the padt yr I had developed gum problems including caterizing the gum lately increased in gum idsues in general . which I never experienced.prior to and slways had healthy gums my upper denture has been chipping while in my mouth anf the back teeth are nearly gome.could this be linked to tje said cleaner

  12. Ruby says

    My tongue has is bothering me and the roof of my mouth, my tongue looks like it has cracks all over it……could this be from the denture tablet? I only have upper dentures.

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  14. Jennifer says

    I just cleaned my night guard with a denture cleaning that contains persulfate. I did this before reading the caution part of the box. I immediately removed it and rinsed it with hot water. I am worried because I have allergic and intolerances to many things. Does the persulfate rinse away? How do I remove it. I do not want to use my night guard until I know it does not have this nasty persulfate still on it. help please:)

  15. Jeff Haines says

    Dear Doc
    I am experiencing very strange symptoms which I am attributing to what could be the cleansing of my dental appliance in Efferdent. I have had facial rashes, tingling sensations in my arms severe anxiety and oral lesions which appear red and subside in a couple days. Over I feel ill. Could this be the culprit?

  16. Teri says

    My mother,age 90 in 3 weeks, has dentures. I have used her Pollident overnight whitening tablets to soak my nightguard. She was using the one that was zinc free before. I don’t know if this box was since the top us riped off. My question now is I have developed tender red skin on inside if cheeks, swollen glands, headache and sore throat. Where my night guard touches my skin infront at cheeks very painful. I have been rinseing with baking soda. Would you please reply
    Thank You Teri

  17. Henry Pelland says

    I just had new dentures made, not my first set. Denturist sold me a bottle of Denture Brite. For some reason, I read what ingrediantes were in it. Luckly for me as it contained persulphates and such, I am very allergic to sulpates. Will get in touch with denturist in morning about the findings.

    Very happy I found your site in researching RENEW Denture cleaner, as bottle does not show ingrediants. I am a senior and all your stories should be passed on to to others young and old.

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